Adapting to trauma: disengagement as a holding strategy

Barton, David, Ward, Kath and Roddam, Hazel orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0637-1801 (2014) Adapting to trauma: disengagement as a holding strategy. Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, 8 (5). pp. 338-347. ISSN 2044-1282

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to draw upon a range of material to improve the understanding of disengagement with everyday life, by some individuals who have learning disabilities and mental health difficulties. Illustrative incidents from historical clinical cases are utilised, to consider whether this reframing may enhance the interpretation of presenting behaviours. Design/methodology/approach – Key recurring themes within transpersonal literature were reviewed, relevant to adults with behaviour indicating a degree of disengagement from everyday life. These were grouped into Physical Realm, Psychosocial Realm and Realm of Being. Illustrative examples of behaviour are reviewed and re-interpreted within this framework. Findings – These examples generated plausible interpretations for the presenting behaviours within this framework of the Three Realms. These interpretations support a fresh understanding of the quality of the individual’s inner experience. This paper suggests a potential framework to consider the way in which some individuals may experience a different quality of consciousness than the usual. Practical implications – Use of the Three Realms for behaviour interpretation should result into a more empathetic and client-centred approach that could reduce the need for aversive approaches, lessening risk for the client and any employing organisation. The identification of behaviours that signal participation in the Realm of Being could be defined and evaluated with the potential to be used to inform the nature and content of the support provided. Originality/value – This paper, rooted in clinical examples, offers an original synthesis with reasons to include the immaterial realm in the perspective of the human condition. This could benefit people with substantial episodes of disconnection from the Physical Realm and everyday culture and those who support them.

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